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Not your granddad’s blues

Mem Shannon plays the modern delta tunes

Mem Shannon and The Membership will be playing Delta blues tonight and Saturday night at The Tugboat Grill & Pub in Ski Time Square.
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Mem Shannon was lucky that the driver’s seat of his van reclined when he got stuck in his seat belt a month ago.

“I had to pull a Houdini to get out. If I was underwater, I would have cut it,” Shannon said. “We’ve been traveling so much that everywhere we go, they don’t have the part, and we don’t have the time to fix it.”

Shannon sat behind a steering wheel for 15 years during his first career – as a cab driver in New Orleans, where he was born and raised. His shift was from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the French Quarter.



“I got to see people in all forms of sobriety: drunk, sober, sad and happy,” Shannon said. “It was a good experience as far as that goes. It does make good fodder for writing songs.”

Shannon recorded some of the conversations that took place in his cab and included them on his first CD.



“They didn’t know, and I didn’t get permission,” he said. “The producers probably spent more money on lawyers so they didn’t get sued, and they gave more money to the lawyers then to me for the deal.”

Shannon wrote a song about SUVs on his “Memphis in the Morning” album because he is annoyed that people drive them in New Orleans, where there is no snow and no mountains.

“For the people that need them – that’s fine,” he said. “But it’s more of a status symbol now than what they were originally made for. They would be just fine with a regular station wagon, but you never see those anymore.”

Not only will he not be driving an SUV, Shannon won’t be playing your grandfather’s blues this weekend.

“Most of the blues artists I know still hold on to the old style, but I play it in a modern way to stand out,” he said. “I don’t play the same three cords over and over, I don’t do the shuffle, and there will be a lot of funk happening.”

Of course, with so much time spent on the road, Shannon misses the food of New Orleans.

“I was I had some right now. As soon as I leave home, there is no food anywhere else in the world,” he said. “There you can get food at the corner grocery that tastes better than places where you pay $60 a plate.”


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